Teen Mentoring Toolkit

Tools for planning, implementing and evaluating a quality school or community-based teen mentoring program

Screening and Selection

Effective screening of participants is perhaps the most important factor in determining the success and safety of your teen mentoring program. The screening and selection process is meant to protect participants and create successful matches.

Mentors

Prior to being accepted as a teen mentor, it is critical that applicants are properly screened. The screening process can help determine whether a student will be an effective mentor as well as help students to decide if the program is right for them. Make sure all potential mentors understand at the outset that they will undergo screening. The screening process will take some time, but it will help prevent issues and mitigate risk. Information gathered throughout the screening process should be kept confidential and recorded in a file. Step 3: Tool A – Teen Mentor Screening Checklist (Sample) provides an example for keeping track of each step in the screening process.

Steps in the mentor screening process may include:

Click each item for more information

Written Application

Applicants complete and submit an application which may include:

  • Contact information
  • Strengths and special interests
  • Previous or current volunteer experience
  • Clubs or activities
  • Interests
  • Reasons they want to be a mentor
  • Class schedule
  • References’ names and contact information
Parent/ Guardian Permission
Parents/ guardians should be made aware of the structure, goals, commitment and expectations of the Teen Mentoring Program and must provide permission for students to be involved in the program. Step 2: Tool B – Teen Mentor Application and Parent/ Guardian Permission Form (Sample) can be adapted to fit your program.
Permission from a Teacher or School Administrator
The student may require permission from staff to participate in the program, especially if they will be missing class or using spare periods generally dedicated to completing homework or catching up on assignments. This is also a way of communicating with homeroom teachers or administration about the teen mentoring program. Step 3: Tool B – School Permission Form (Sample) can be adapted to fit your program.
Orientation

An information or orientation session is an opportunity to share important information so that students can make an informed decision about participating as mentors. Orientation sessions serve as a mechanism to weed out prospective participants who do not have the time, motivation or skills to participate in the program9. It is important to communicate the following:

  • An overview of the program and its goals
  • Roles and responsibilities of a mentor
  • Qualities of successful mentors
  • Eligibility requirements and the screening process
  • Time commitment and availability
  • Amount of expected regular contact required with staff
  • Benefits and rewards of participating for both mentors and mentees
Interview

Applicants may be invited for a personal or group interview as an opportunity to better assess whether they are the right fit for the program. This is an opportunity to get to know the student better and collect information on their life, lifestyle, history and personality19. It is also an opportunity to further orient the student to the program and to clarify the time commitment, expectations and allow students to ask questions. Discussion can include questions that will provide more information about:

  • Motivation for wanting to volunteer as a mentor
  • Family and peer relationships and history
  • Support network
  • Attitudes and belief systems
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Reactions to stressful situations
  • History with issues such as bullying, peer pressure, managing self-esteem, alcohol or drugs, etc.
  • Interests and leisure time activities
  • Volunteer and work experience
  • Activities at and outside of school
  • Class schedule and availability
  • Level of flexibility, time commitments and ability to commit to the program
  • Attendance and grades

Step 3: Tool C – Mentor Interview Questions (Sample) provides sample questions that can be adapted to fit your program.

Reference Checks
References may be used to learn more about the student’s personality, motivations and to verify the accuracy of information learned in the interview6. Applicants’ parents must sign a release and references must be kept confidential. References may be most helpful from teachers or counsellors, especially if you do not have a previous relationship with the student and you require more information about their attendance, grades and school connectedness. You may also wish to seek information from diverse sources including family members, coaches, employers, or community members. Step 3: Tool D – Mentor Reference Questions (Sample) provides general reference questions that can be adapted to fit your program.
Contract

Potential mentors sign an agreement to such things as:

  • Making a commitment for the full program-length
  • Attending training sessions
  • Engaging in the relationship with an open mind
  • Being on time and prepared for scheduled meetings
  • Keeping discussions with youth confidential (except where the youth’s safety or well-being is at risk)
  • Asking for help when needed
  • Accepting guidance from program staff and teachers
  • Notifying staff if they are having difficulty in their mentoring relationship
  • Notifying staff of any significant changes in their mentee

Step 3: Tool E – Teen Mentor Contract (Sample) provides a sample contract that can be adapted for your program.

Training
Mentors should not be approved until they have completed the online and/ or in person teen mentor training. The training session can also give you valuable insight into the appropriateness of a student as a mentor. Information, resources and support can be found in the Training section of this toolkit.
Mentor Selection and Notification
As you select mentors, it is important to consider the eligibility criteria developed in the planning phase. Applicants who follow through with all of the screening processes and meet the eligibility criteria are notified, congratulated and invited to become mentors in the program. Every student that applies may not meet the program’s requirements so it is important to have a procedure to notify students respectfully if their skills and background do not meet the expectations9. Mentors should be selected to represent the many types of groups that exist in your school.

Mentees

Your teen mentoring program should be intentional about the students it wants to serve. After students are referred to be mentees, a number of screening options exist to ensure that they are right for the teen mentoring program.

Steps in the mentee screening process may include:

Click each item for more information

Interview

An interview will help you to determine the student’s attitude towards and interest in the program, as well as help to make an appropriate match. It is an opportunity to gather personal information and provide orientation information on the program, including an overview of the program, commitment, benefits, expectations and policies9. Discussion can include questions that will provide more information about:

  • Motivation for wanting to participate as a mentee
  • Family and peer relationships
  • Attitudes about school
  • Likes and dislikes
  • Experiences with bullying, difficult behaviours, making friends, etc.
  • Things they are proud of at home and at school
  • Interests and leisure time activities
  • Hopes, goals and wishes for the school year and future

Step 3: Tool F – Mentee Interview Questions (Sample) provides sample questions that can be adapted to fit your program.

Mentee Consent
Even though adults in the child or youth’s life may want them to participate, not all children and youth will be interested. It is essential that the young people want to take part for the match or program to be successful9. When mentees are required to participate, their engagement in and enjoyment of the program and the mentoring match decreases, often making for an unsuccessful experience in the program or an especially difficult experience for the mentor. After mentees are provided with information about the program, what they can expect and how they will benefit, they should be asked directly if they would like to participate. Only mentees providing verbal consent should be accepted to participate in the program.
Parent/ Guardian Permission
Parents/ guardians should be made aware of the structure, goals, commitment and expectations of the Teen Mentoring Program and must provide permission for students to be involved in the program. Step 2: Tool E – Mentee Parent/ Guardian Permission Form (Sample) can be adapted to fit your program.
Training
Training mentees will help them to optimize the mentoring experience and ensure that the program runs safely5. More information can be found in the Training section of this toolkit.

 

Additional tools to support the screening and selection process for mentors and mentees can be found at: http://www.mentoring.org/program_resources/elements_and_toolkits/tool_kit/operation

 

 

The screening and selection process is meant to protect participants and create successful matches.

Mentors should be selected to represent the different groups in your school. It is important that potential mentors reflect this diversity and have potential to support and emphasize with mentees in unique ways.

Screening and Selection - Alberta Mentoring Partnership

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